After throwing your laptop, charger and spare battery into your travel bag as you head out the door, suddenly you don’t feel so mobile anymore. One solution is to rely more on your iPhone for basic business tasks, such as grabbing data from your company’s computer systems, managing a Web site and even viewing, editing and storing Word and Excel files.
For road warriors, the iPhone isn’t just about games — it can be a powerful business tool. With Apple’s release of the iPhone 3GS, the handset gains better security and improved real-time e-mail delivery, both appealing features for business users and their companies’ IT departments.
Need to keep track of invoices, manage your eBay storefront, or log your mileage? “Yep, there’s an app for that!” After consulting with mobile business experts, we collected the best business apps that the iPhone has to offer.
Who knows — maybe on your next business trip you’ll be able to leave that hulking ultraportable laptop behind.
Price: Free (plus account per transaction fees)
Need a mobile app for accepting credit card payments? iTerminal lets you accept credit card payments wherever business takes you. To use iTerminal you’ll have to fork over $25 per month for an account with the firm, and each transaction will cost 30 cents plus 2.29 percent of the total.
iTerminal works via Wi-Fi and 3G, and it verifies credit card numbers as you enter them, giving instant feedback for approved or declined charges. The app supports all major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.
Aside from the fees mentioned above, iTerminal is itself a free application, and the service doesn’t require any contracts or termination fees, making it ideal for businesses that have never accepted credit cards before. Since the app is tied with the Authorize.Net service, users must sign up with that for iTerminal to work. Sales teams can use one merchant account across multiple iPhones.
The app works only with U.S.-based merchants, so if you do business abroad, you might want to try the more expensive Credit Card Terminal ($49.99).
Publisher: Alexander Batalov
An increasing number of businesses are relying on Basecamp as their project management and collaboration tool of choice. Though various applications offer to bring the desktop Basecamp’s functionality to the iPhone, Encamp stands out as the quickest and most flexible iPhone Basecamp app of the lot.
Encamp gives you access to all of Basecamp’s core features — such as projects, messages, to-do lists, and milestones — in an interface that loads information quickly (even over EDGE). The app’s dashboard shows you the latest activity overview, while the project tab displays all your active and archived projects.
In the latest Encamp update, you can also view files attached to your Basecamp projects, such as PDFs, images, and Office documents. Encamp does not store project data on the iPhone, though, so the application always requires an Internet connection to access your Basecamp data.
Frequent fliers know what a hassle it is to keep track of delayed flights, botched reservations and annoying last-minute gate changes. The FlightTrack Pro app checks FAA airport delays and closures, airport arrival times and temperature, and it tracks your flights worldwide.
FlightTrackPro will also check for your gate numbers and flight cancellations, and search alternative schedules. For each flight, enthusiasts can view the aircraft type, speed and altitude.
To get started with FlightTrack Pro, you just forward your airline confirmation e-mail to email@example.com. The app takes over from there, and your flight itinerary will automatically appear in your FlightTrack Pro account. For less-frequent fliers, a cheaper ($4.99), more-basic version of FlightTrack is available.
Publisher: Haw-Yuan Yang
You can make your iPhone double as a PowerPoint presentation pointer during your next great pitch or slideshow. mbPointer works with Microsoft PowerPoint (2003/2007/Mac 2008) whether you’re on a Windows XP/Vista PC or on a Mac.
To use mbPointer with your computer, you need to install the free companion receiver application. Then mbPointer connects to your PC via Wi-Fi and acts as a remote control for your presentations. But this app is much more than just a PowerPoint remote — it also lets your iPhone serve as a regular touchpad for your PC, allowing you to perform mouse movements (including scrolling and middle-button clicking) with your finger on a virtual pad.
Web site tracking
For Web site owners and bloggers, keeping tabs on traffic to your site shouldn’t be a desk-only job. The best desktop tool is Google Analytics, and for the iPhone you have Analytics App. The app, made by Inblosam, gives you access to a wide range of Google Analytics reports on your iPhone.
Getting started with Analytics App is as easy as entering your Google account credentials. Analytics App offers 47 types of reports in a neatly organized interface, including custom reports for multiple accounts. Simple and efficient, the “Today” report is one of the highlights, showing you the traffic statistics for the day without your having to fiddle with date ranges.
Contact management, networking
For many people, LinkedIn is a useful (but sometimes annoying) Web service. The LinkedIn iPhone app really lets the power of LinkedIn shine.
For starters, the app lets you get rid of business cards and vanquish printed resumes. Who hasn’t arrived back at the office with a pile of disorganized and creased business cards? Having access to the ultimate social network for professionals straight from your iPhone means you no longer have to swap business cards with people — you can just add each other on LinkedIn, on the spot. You’ll never lose another business card — and therefore lose a valuable contact — again.
LinkedIn for iPhone also lets you view your entire network, and you can send and receive LinkedIn updates so that others know what you are working on and where you are.
Quickoffice Mobile Office Suite
Price: $12.99 (on sale)
It’s a fact: The iPhone doesn’t get along very well with Microsoft Office documents. If you receive a Word document by e-mail, the iPhone can read it but not edit it.
Quickoffice for iPhone fixes that major shortcoming, providing a comprehensive suite that can view, edit, and exchange Microsoft Word and Excel documents on the go. Quickoffice Files ($0.99 on sale, offered separately) allows you to mount your iPhone as a wireless drive via Wi-Fi and also has a file-sharing feature that lets you e-mail files directly from your iPhone.
If the whole Quickoffice for iPhone suite sounds a little pricey, you might want to consider the individual Quickword and Quicksheet applications ($4.99 each, on sale). Alternatively, the cheaper Documents 2 ($3.99) is also an all-in-one mobile office suite, only with fewer features.
Price: $1.99 (on sale)
Tracking your time as a freelancer can be difficult with stacks of time sheets and paperwork to manage. ClockIn is a simple and efficient program that allows you to monitor the time you spend on a project and among multiple clients.
With a few taps, you can punch in and out, and have the app track your shifts (and even if you close the app, it remembers whether you punched in or out). At-a-glance information about the current shift remains at the top of the screen for your convenience, and you can filter reports based on a client’s name.
The app can manage multiple clients, and it stores their names, Web sites and e-mail addresses. To export your hours spent on project data, ClockIn uses HTML or CSV (Microsoft Excel compatible) format and attaches the information to an e-mail message that you can easily send to your computer.
For personal time-keeping, you might want to try Time Manager Pro ($0.99), which can help you track the time you spend on reading, exercising, working and socializing.
If you run an eBay storefront, or even if you sell only the occasional item, the eBay Mobile iPhone app will come in handy. With it you can check item prices or place bids on auctions, as well as answer buyers’ questions on the go.
eBay says improvements are on the way; soon you’ll be able to create auctions (using images you’ve taken with your iPhone) and process payments.
A good companion application for eBay Mobile is the eBay Profit Calculator app ($0.99), which can help you determine your estimated total profit after eBay’s fees, based on the type of auction, the category, and your prices.
Keep track of everything that happens in your life with this app. Evernote lets you gather notes, voice memos, ideas or snapshots on your iPhone, and it syncs them with your computer (PC or Mac). Very useful for creative minds, Evernote keeps your ideas organized and easy to review later.
The best thing about Evernote is the harmonious synchronization it provides, as it adds all of your iPhone notes and items to the service’s Web version as well as to its PC and Mac applications. The app also offers a voice-recording module and takes advantage of the iPhone’s camera to snap photos of things you want to remember.
Want to take a break from work? Other iPhone apps can keep you challenged, entertained, and dreaming of summer vacation. For more, see the slide shows below. And to read descriptions and reviews of thousands of iPhone apps, be sure to visit PC World’s brand-new App Guide.